[From January Issue 2015]
Yonex Co., Ltd
Badminton is a sport that flourishes in various Asian countries. During his foreign travels in October, 2013, Prime Minister ABE Shinzo presented the Bruneian King with a badminton racket. The gift given at that time was a product made by Yonex Co., Ltd – a company which produces and sells sporting goods.
At the Thomas Cup (a global men’s team badminton competition) held in May, 2014, the Japanese men’s team won for the first time. In October, the Japanese women’s team became the world’s top ranking team. Many top players use Yonex rackets.
Yonex was founded in 1946 in Niigata Prefecture under the name Yoneyama Company. Originally they made paulownia wood floats that were used by the fishing industry. However, they withdrew from float production when the materials used to produce them changed from wood to plastic. Around 1957, taking advantage of the badminton boom, they began producing rackets. Niigata Prefecture benefits from easy access to the kind of lumber that is suitable for making rackets with.
The company has gone through some tough times, including a fire that completely destroyed its factory and a bankruptcy crisis. However, they have diversified to become a sporting goods manufacturer that deals not only in rackets, but also in sports related items such as shoes and uniforms. The company has also concentrated its energies on product development, by developing materials from wood, aluminium, stainless steel, carbon, and more. In particular, the company is enthusiastic about making the most of the cutting edge materials of each era. In addition to badminton, the company also manufactures items related to other sports, including tennis, golf, and snowboarding.
The development of the Yonex badminton racket reflects the history of weight reduction and the pursuit of increased smash speeds through the adoption of graphite materials. In February 2013, the company created their lightest racket yet; the “Arc Saber FB,” that weighs 73 grams. In September, the Malaysian athlete TAN Boon Heong used the “Nanoray Z-speed” when he set a smash speed record of 493 kilometers per hour initial velocity. Furthermore, the square shaped “isometric form” racket that the company developed in 1980, had a huge impact on the tennis world, which up until then had favored rackets with a round shaped head.
The company name was changed to Yonex for overseas trading. “We removed a part of ‘Yoneyama,’ because it was difficult for foreigners to pronounce. Instead, we attached an ‘X’ to signify future possibility,” says TAKANO Yuzo of Yonex’s publicity department. This name reflects the company’s desire to create lighter and faster products in the future. Yonex has many contracts with sales agents throughout the world. The Yonex Cups for badminton and tennis are also held to make a contribution to the promotion of sport.
Text: ITO Koichi